Bayern Munich’s Thiago Alcantara is the man to watch as the Bundesliga returns today, providing football fans with the entertainment they’ve been craving during the COVID-19 lockdown.
With players like Robert Lewandowski and Jadon Sancho, there’s obvious excitement the Bundesliga returning to our screens. There is one player, however, who may not have the goals of his contemporaries but should be at the top of any football fan’s watchlist.
Thiago Alcantara first came onto the scene in Barcelona, but it’s been at Bayern Munich where his talents have been allowed to flourish. The Catalan was Pep Guardiola’s first signing for the Bavarians, at a fee of 25 million euros. At first, however, it looked as if despite his obvious talent, injuries might ruin his long term career at the very top of the game.
The Spanish maestro made only 23 appearances in the Bundesliga across his first two seasons in the competition. Over the last couple of years, however, that has changed. Thiago has managed to make 52 league appearances over the last two seasons and cemented his place in Germany’s most successful team. Whilst doing this, he has also managed to make his mark as one of the world’s best midfielders.
The Spaniard has thrived in Hansi Flick’s midfield alongside Joshua Kimmich. The pair provide both defensive stability and almost unparallelled technical quality in the centre of the park. From there, they provide the platform for Bayern’s ludicrously talented attackers to thrive up the pitch.
It’s a good thing too as in terms of goals and assists his numbers are unspectacular. With only three to his name and no assists in the Bundesliga, it’s in other ways he contributes. From deeper in midfield, he can dictate the flow of the game, changing the matches pace with each pass. He is currently averaging 76.9 passes per game for club and country, with a success percentage of 91.1%.
But for those who watch Thiago, which makes him incredible to watch is his dribbling. His first touch and appreciation of position are outrageous, his dribbling style reminiscent of legendary Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta.
His stats, in this case, are as impressive as his style, with an 85% dribbling success rate in all competitions. The Spaniard is not quick, but like Andrea Pirlo, he is a master of avoiding the press. This combined with his penchant for humiliating opponents with a body swerve makes him spectacular to watch.
And it’s this that is at the core of the Spaniard’s appeal. In this increasingly clinical and scientific sport, his skill and guile simply make the game so much fun to watch.